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A lease is a contractual agreement between the tenant and the landlord to occupy a property for a fixed period of time and agreed upon terms. Lease terms can last as long as a couple of years to as short as 3 months depending on the landlord’s terms. The term "rental agreement" is just another name for a lease.
Creating a valid lease or rental agreement is not as simple as setting the terms according to the landlord’s wishes. More than anything, a good lease or rental agreement is one that is able to protect the interest of the landlord should the tenant-landlord relationship go awry. It must be written in strict adherence to property laws of the state where the property is located. Failing to do so can either render the lease invalid or unable to protect the landlord’s property and interests from potential problem tenants.
At the bare minimum, a rental agreement or lease should identify the leased property, state the names of all parties to the lease, the names of all occupants, the beginning date, when the contract expires, the amount of rent, when rent is due, when rent is late, and what happens if the tenant stays in the property beyond the term of the lease. The lease should also be signed by all occupants who are adults, and state whether there is a security deposit and how it may be utilized. It should also state whether the tenant may sublease the apartment.
When it comes to additional transactional information, the lease or rental agreement should provide the addresses for giving notices and should very clearly state the method of payment of rent, as well as where rent payments should be made. To protect the landlord’s interests should problems with a tenant arise, the lease should provide for attorney's fees in the event of litigation relating to the lease.
Beyond these, there are numerous additional topics that a lease should cover. For instance, it should state which party (landlord or tenant) will pay utilities such as water, gas and electricity. It should state under which circumstances a landlord may enter the property. It should also state whether either party has the right to renew the lease. The lease should state explicitly which party is responsible for repairs, improvements, and alterations of the property. If the landlord does not want to be responsible for specific items or possible occurrences (such as burglaries or health hazards), the lease should also cover these grounds.
With all these in mind, it’s best to consult a property lawyer or eviction expert upon drafting a lease. Even with rigorous background checks and safeguards, landlords can only do so much to prevent an unwanted problem with a tenant that may lead to an eviction case. In the event of an eviction case, a good and valid lease will ultimately secure the release of the landlord’s property from the problem tenant.
If you need assistance drafting a lease that protects your property and your interests as its rightful owner or manager, contact our eviction experts at Texas Evictions today.